Aafia: our rulers shame

The expected sentencing of Dr Aafia Siddiqui by a US federal court in New York did not come as a surprise. She was not charged with terrorism yet the judge saw fit to sentence her to eighty six years in prison as a would-be terrorist. This reflects the biases and flaws in the US judicial system as well as the anti-Muslim phobia prevailing in the US. But most of all, the sentencing reflects the failure, deliberate or otherwise of the Pakistani rulers to get Dr Aafia repatriated. After all, how many Pakistani citizens have we handed over to the US, alongside Afghans, including Ambassador Zaeef? Yet we could not get one Pakistani citizen back before she was unjustly sentenced by a vindictive US court?
However, as pre-launch revelations about Woodward’s book, Obama’s Wars cited in The Washington Post quote President Zardari on the drone attacks allegedly telling the CIA Chief that “collateral damage worries you Americans not me”; it shows Pakistani lives matter little to the country’s rulers. So we should then understand why, despite massive protests, the government has done little to bring Aafia home barring the rather belated letter written by Interior Minister Rehman Malik for her repatriation. What has prevented President Zardari from raising the issue with President Obama? There has been a complete lack of responsiveness from the country’s decision-makers in the face of nationwide protests on the Dr Aafia issue. As for the sham of the Pakistan government providing a defence team for her in New York, Dr Aafia had rejected them and had clearly stated that they did not represent her. In any case, the issue was not one of ensuring she got a competent legal defence but of the Pakistani state having her repatriated as she had already been tortured by the American government and her children victimised. In fact, the fate of all her children is still an issue of doubt and uncertainty. As for the allegation that her frail frame could snatch a gun away from a hefty US soldier – this is laughable. Clearly she was simply tortured and abused for the views she held and the qualifications she had. The message going out to educated Pakistanis, especially in the scientific field is that if they hold world views contrary to those acceptable to the US, they can be tortured, abused, incarcerated at will – and the Pakistan government may even hand them over to the US for such purposes.